(Poster's note: in reading the comments, I realized I probably wasn't clear with my criticisms here. I do certainly understand that ads are not to be taken literally, and advertising hasn't been about the actual qualities of the product for decades. We talk about that in the book, even. I was more taken by this particular approach itself, and how I found the conceit itself inane. That said, most of the comments that advertising is not about the product is right on the money, and that right there is a good thing to keep in mind.) Since our book is about advertising, let's talk about some ads. Some awful ads.
If you could find someone totally unaware of what a Twix bar was (friendly alien, unfrozen pilgrim, etc.) and showed them these current crop of Twix ads, and then asked them what Twix bars were, I bet you'd get an answer like "Twix bars? Aren't they those crunch-activated time-stopping rods?"
And that assessment would be totally justified, based on these ads. They're relying on the tenuous idea that we're all not drooling idiots to take this literally, because the only qualities of a Twix bar demonstrated in these commercials are the ability of the Twix bar to stop time. There's nothing mentioned of the taste, the crunch, the dubious energy benefit-- all the usual candy bar selling points-- just the bold suggestion that these crunchy little logs have colossal power over the time-space continuum. I know no one really thinks they can do that, and this is just an advertising conceit, but it's strange when the big marketing appeal of your product is the freedom it gives you to be a jackass.
Before we get anything further, I should make it very clear that they can't stop time. I've said some truly awful, offensive things to people, and when I've tried to use a Twix bar in the demonstrated manner, I've just come off looking even more like an idiot, but this time an idiot with a dripping mouthful of half-masticated candy and a panicked, confused look in his eye.
Now, even beyond the strange misrepresentation of a candy bar as a long wished-for tool of profound power, there's one other really awful thing about these commercials: everything else. The Twix ad agency has managed to concoct that perfect cocktail of unfunny, misogynistic, and confusing all at the same time. In the ad above, what girl is going to be that swept off her feet by some jackass with a popped collar smarmily chiding his idiot man-child friend?
And this one, if possible, may even be worse:
It sounds like it was written by someone's 55 year old uncle who overheard about blogging from his niece when she was talking to a friend on that little Game Boy or whatever it is she's always fiddling with. Sure, maybe it's tongue-in-cheek, and they're aware how insipid it all sounds, but it's just not funny enough to really sell me on that. It has the same improbably stupid women, the same valueless, douchebag guys, the same deus ex candybar qualities for the product.
The real shame here is that Twix bars are really pretty good-- ever scrape away all the chocolate and caramel with your teeth, leaving that pale, perforated shortbread girder? It's fun. And, to the adfolks' credit, I do like the use of the two Twix bars as a pause icon. But, beyond that, Twix admen, "take a moment" for all of us and insert these two Twix bars in your anuses.
Carrie McLaren & Jason Torchinsky are coeditors of _Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture_. In previous lives, they worked together on the hopelessly obscure and now defunct Stay Free! magazine. He lives in LA and writes for the Onio